Un regalo para mí – Yelapa part 1

On this cold, rainy, gray spring day, I am reaching into my storage of Vitamin D that I tucked away in my core while I was in Mexico for a month earlier this year. I also stored patience, perspective, joy and some lush green and blue skies to hold me through to warm Colorado days. I left the Mexican folk music there.

Last year my wonderfully inspiring friend, Carrie, a.k.a. Wild Mama, invited me (and my family) to join her (and her family) in the small fishing village of Yelapa, Mexico. They have been going for years for months at a time and she has written great essays and talks with a spark in her eye about how this magical place feeds her soul and spirit of adventure.

It was an unmissable opportunity! It was a gift.

She found us a great palapa

Casa Iguana. My home away from home
Casa Iguana. My home away from home

that would accommodate all of us and via a Skype phone call, we booked it for a month. I decided to go ahead of Chris and the boys for two weeks by myself to paint and just be. It was a gift for myself! Un regalo para mi!

I was excited to escape the cold brown winter of Colorado that makes my insides feel the same. I was nervous. What was I thinking? I speak three words of Spanish and understand less when it is spoken to me.

Alone in the jungle? Even just alone!! What would that be like? I’m never alone for more that a few hours. Two weeks?

Scorpions… snakes…. spiders…

EEK!!! I killed it with a skillet!


But the promise of the beach, salt water, warmth, sunshine, flowers, time to read, paint and think far outweighed any fear.


So mid February, I packed my bag with paints, brushes, bathing suits, hiking shoes, books, journals, bug spray, sunscreen and colorful dresses. Carrie and her family greeted me at the pier in Puerta Vallarta. We loaded onto the water taxi and were off to Yelapa. The Sierra Madres rise up out of the bay with the clouds sitting on their tops! The salt water sprayed my face taking me back to my childhood and suddenly I’m 12 again. Watching my friend mother her two children on the bumpy ride to the cove we would call home for awhile was pure sweetness. When we turned out of the bay  to Yelapa, the sun streaked through the clouds shinining down on the pueblo and beaches. I could see the waterfall behind the white dome of the church. A lovely yellow house sat on the rocks at the water’s edge reminding of my yellow house back in Colorado.

I love this yellow house



Orange, blue and white umbrellas lined la playa.  The palmed roofs of the palapas are sprinkled amongst the brightly painted buildings. And that green!!! EVERYWHERE!

Arriving in Yelapa. We had a wonderful beach landing! Fun!
Arriving in Yelapa. We had a wonderful beach landing! Fun!

At the beach, Carries’ husband, Chris greeted us and enlisted a friend to carry my bags up the VERY STEEP hill to my palapa.

About half of the hill to my gate, then stairs up to the Pelapa
About half of the hill to my gate, then stairs up to the palapa

I’m not sure how I would have done it without them. My two story casa for the month was lovely! A huge table to paint on, a laundry line to hang them to dry, a wonderful space to read and write, a magnificent ceiling of woven palms to sleep under,

palapa ceiling


an incredible out door shower with a heart made of shells and rocks under foot


and a palm tree “roof” along with hibiscus, bird of paradise, bougainvillea, geraniums, ferns, a view of the beach down below, and electricity (which I wasn’t expecting)! There were fresh flowers on the table from my hostess, cookies and wine from my friends and two weeks of time ahead of me to enjoy. My cheeks already hurt from smiling.

The kitchen... soon to be studio!
The kitchen… soon to be studio!
My view of the cove
My view of the cove
The hibiscus out my back door.


For the first few days, I read, set up my new “studio” and hiked all over the place to get the lay of the land. I battled tremendous waves of guilt for getting to be in this space and time. I had sensory overload in the best possible way… vibrant colors, new people and culture, new foods, new sounds… like the chachalacas that wake you up every morning, new smells…. like the soapy smell of the Bella Donnas,

The canopy of Bella Donnas I walked under before reaching my hill towards my casa.


not to mention a new language which I was butchering.  I thought I would journal, but there was so much to take in, I found it impossible. They only way I could was to paint. Hours would pass and I would be covered in new colors of this wonderful place and I managed to get some on canvas too.


I felt my brain and heart expanding and settling simultaneously. It was a wonderful way to be.

relaxed and happy in palapa
relaxed and happy in my palapa

It is impossible to sit and write all that those two weeks by myself meant, not to mention the magic of two weeks with my family. I will have to break it down into parts. But the biggest truths are that Carrie’s invitation was a gift that changed me at what feels almost a cellular level. The time and support that Chris gave me to go off for two weeks by myself, restored a part of me that I didn’t realize had been so completely buried and depleted. And the gift I gave myself was to be in the present moment, enjoy my own company (easier said than done for two weeks straight), and challenge myself to soak up everything that I experienced, thought and felt; all of it!

Stay tuned for the dance of the chickens… another day!

* I just type and publish… I’ve got paintings to do! Yay! Boys to take care of! Dogs to walk. Chocolate to eat. Gardening to feed my soul and I probably need a shower. Sorry for not editing!


Last fall while at my booth at the French Nest, the most beautiful couple came to see me. It had been a slow day and I sat with my sister and pondered was it worth it for me to be there.

What was I doing?

Was I kidding myself? Artist?   blah… blah… blah… YUCK!

A month earlier a local magazine, Style, did a write up on how and why my work incorporates the legend of the Red Thread. I was honored and uncomfortable but as it turned out it brought me two of my most favorite and pivotal moments. The first being that day last fall and again today.

As we sat at the booth that afternoon, in walked Patsy and Jerry along with Patsy’s caretaker all arm in arm. Jerry carefully let go and introduced the three of them and told me that they had come to meet me.  Me? I couldn’t imagine why. I was completely taken aback.

They had read the article and learned about the red thread of fate and wanted to come tell me how much it meant to them. Patsy has late stage Parkinsons and the red thread gave them something to hold onto. Patsy talked of her children with the brightest eyes and an infectious smile. Her body is shaking and her neck is twisted so her head rests on her shoulder, but her spirit outshines her disabilities. She radiates strength, love and grace.

She and her caretaker excuse themselves for a break and I got to visit with Jerry for awhile. He is honest about their situation, he shares their story of their family, and he is obviously so moved and grateful for the legend; it is all I can do to hold it together. He is so warm and lovely. He adores his wife, respects her above all and seems to be full of nothing but love and gratitude. I bask in his light. Around his neck is a red thread with a peace symbol on it that Patsy had given him before they learned of the legend. She now calls him her Shanti man. It’s a perfect name.

Pasty and her caretaker return and she picks out a necklace and a board that says JOY, reminding her of one of her daughters. We talk and share some more about the magic of the legend, my art and their story. Before they leave, we have huge group hug right there in the middle of the market. I didn’t want to let go of these special and incredible souls. By the time we say our goodbyes we are all in tears and grateful that the red thread has once again worked its magic and brought us to this moment. They left and I burst into tears of gratitude.

What it took them to come see me!

What a gift of love they brought!

How could I ever doubt that the red thread path that I am on would ever let me down? What a fool I had been to question it.

I smiled and cried some more and my sister smiled and listened to me as I tried to process how overwhelmed I was by their visit to see me. It was a moment that I will always cherish. They gave me a gift from their heart.

Today, six months later I was painting in my studio and my phone rang. I decided to ignore it as I was really in the flow and enjoying being back at work on a canvas after a few weeks. When I got to a good stopping point, I listened to my voicemail and it was a message from Jerry. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy to hear his voice. He went on to explain that Patsy had taken a turn for the worse in the past few weeks and was now at Pathways Hospice. He told me that one of her requests was that I come see her. Completely overwhelmed with honor, I hung up the phone and wept.

I talked with him a bit later and he asked if I would come this afternoon at 4. I showered to remove the paint off my face and arms (I’m a terribly messy painter!) I put on my red thread necklace with the Courage pendant on it and asked the universe for strength and presence. I arrived at Patsy’s room and was greeted by her brother, son and sweet Jerry. I reached to hold her hand and around her wrist was a red ribbon tied just as I have one on mine. And, around her neck and she was wearing my necklace. She was hard to understand as it took all of her strength to talk. Jerry held her other hand and helped me to understand her lovely words. We talked about the magic of the red thread and how hers would continue on after she died. She and Jerry shared a moment of how special they are to one another and to bare witness to that raw love was indescribable. I told her how I love her radiant smile and bright eyes and have never felt more honored to be in a moment such as that. She asked if I had been a part of a death experience like this. I told her no and how grateful I was to be there to tell her how much her visit meant to me last fall and to see her again. She had given me a wonderful gift of love again.

She tired and asked if we could just listen.

She asked for 4 minutes.

So hands held we listened.  It was the most spiritual moment of my life. Such clarity, truth and love I heard in those quiet minutes.

Jerry held her left hand and I her right. She closed her eyes and her breathing steadied. I could feel her pulse in her hand beating against mine. I thought of our literal red threads.. our veins all pulsing together. Life. I felt like I could feel Jerry’s pulse too… traveling up Patsy’s left arm across her big, beautiful heart and down her right arm to my hand. It was amazing to feel so completely connected to this incredible couple who I had only met once before. They are willing to open up and share their love, their sorrow, their gratitude, their pain and enrich the lives of those around them. I am ever grateful that I am one of them.

We talked a bit more, kissed hands and said goodbyes. As heartbreaking as it was, I felt such a tremendous amount of peace. I hope I will get to see Patsy again and if I don’t I will be sure to continue her red thread by sharing her story and honoring her beautiful spirit. And now, she knows it.

I know I will see Jerry again. I think a wonderful friendship is in the works.

The pathway of the red thread will never be doubted again.